December 28, 2022 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Stan Lee, the beloved writer and editor that co-created a number of the iconic characters in the Marvel Universe — and, indeed, co-created the Marvel Universe itself. With that in mind, it only makes sense that the company releasing a special project to mark the event would be… DC?!?
Sure enough, DC has announced Tales From Earth-6: A Celebration of Stan Lee, a 96-page special issue featuring characters from Lee’s Just Imagine… Stan Lee Creating the DC Universe series of one-shots from 2001 and 2002. Creators attached to the 10-story anthology include Mark Waid, Michael Conrad and Becky Cloonan, Jerry Ordway, Kevin Maguire, Lee Weeks, and many more.
Additionally, the issue will be released with a number of different variant covers, each spotlighting Lee’s re-creations of the core DC characters by artists including Riley Rossmo, Kelley Jones, Christian Ward, and Clayton Henry. The main cover for the issue comes from Jim Cheung, with Cully Hamner also providing a 1-in-25 ratio variant.
The Just Imagine… series of releases saw Lee and co-writer Michael Uslan reimagining 10 different DC characters — Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Robin, Shazam!, Aquaman, Catwoman, and Sandman — alongside a number of comics’ most high-profile artists of the era, including Jim Lee, Dave Gibbons, and Joe Kubert. Additionally, there were one-shots in which Lee and Uslan reimagined the Justice League, and DC’s traditional event staple, the Crisis.
In each case, Lee and Uslan leaned into what audiences expected of a Stan Lee comic: a sense of humor balanced by no shortage of melodrama, both personal and professional. When paired with some of the hottest contemporary artists of the period, the result was a curiously charming mix of the out-of-time and the breathlessly up-to-date.
While the Just Imagine… comics were originally created during a period when DC’s multiverse didn’t canonically exist, the series was retroactively inserted into the larger picture by Grant Morrison as part of their 2014 series The Multiversity, where the stories were officially placed on Earth-6 of the revised DC multiverse. (Morrison’s version of the DC multiverse also includes two separate analogs for Marvel characters, on Earths-7 and 8, respectively.)
Tales From Earth-6: A Celebration of Stan Lee will be released December 28. If you listen closely enough, you can hear an “Excelsior!” coming from an unseen force somewhere out there.
Despite DC getting a jump on Marvel on celebrating Lee’s birth, the creator will forever be associated with the Marvel brand. That’s something underscored by the fact that Marvel has signed a deal to use Lee’s likeness and name even after his death. It’s what he would have wanted, as long as he got paid for it.